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Navigating the Journey

TEXT THE LOVE:  This week send your child a text everyday of a truth about the way that Christ sees them.  Follow it with a Bible verse that backs it up.  If you can, download the "You Version" of the Bible to your phone.  This "app" allows you the ability to look up a verse and text it directly to someone.  If your phone does not offer this capability, then look up hte verse together over dinner  Some ideas to get you started: 

  • You belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
  • God chose you to be His. (Ephesians 1:3-8)
  • With Chrsit he takes away fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Christ has plans for you that are bigger than you can think! (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • God sings about you! (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • God loves you more than you can even dream! (Ephesians 3: 18-20)


NEW LIFE by John Hardin

The older I get, the more I enjoy Spring: the spring flowers pushing their way through the winter decay; the birds returning with a flurry of activity; the trees beginning to show signs of new life.  Who couldn’t be excited?! NEW LIFE! 

It is amazing what happens during the deep cold, dark days of winter. Life goes dormant but doesn’t die, even though it may look like it from the outside.  Actually, life recharges itself; it is like our lives.  During the “winter” of our lives we go through some of the worst situations of our lives. Those situations could be health problems, the loss of a spouse/child/dear friend, or divorce.  The list could go on and on.  What is sad is some people never recover from their deep periods of sorrow.  They never allow God the opportunity to introduce SPRING or newness into their season of life.

Over the last couple of months, I have not been able to let go of the concept of “Where Joy and Sorrow Meet”.  So, I ask you – where do they meet?

There are two individuals in God’s Word who give us some insight.  Both were disciples of Jesus.  Both walked with Him, seeing Him heal the sick, feed the thousands, and calm the storm. Both stopped what they were doing to follow Him. And, both even betrayed Him.  But what they did during their darkest hour differentiates the two.  These two individuals were Peter and Judas (Iscariot).

Peter was a “go for it” type of person. His loyalty to Christ cannot be disputed.  At times, his zeal would get him into trouble. He took to heart the mission of Jesus and was even bold enough at one point to say, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” (John 13:37)  However, when push came to shove during the night of Jesus’ trial, Peter denied knowing the very one he had committed to never betray. I cannot even begin to imagine the remorse he had to feel as he heard that rooster crow and the words of Jesus replayed in his thoughts.

And then there is Judas, the one who never really took the message of Jesus to heart – he was never truly transformed for the Master.  Judas was looking for a Messiah to be more of a militant leader – one who would overthrow Rome and restore the land to Israel.  He was a little too focused on the things of the world instead of the message of the Christ. And when the appropriate time came, he was willing to turn Jesus over to the very ones who wanted Him silenced…all for some pieces of silver.  He, too, had seen the miracles of Jesus and quite possibly thought Jesus would never allow harm to come to Himself.  But, again, Judas wasn’t hearing the message of the Christ!

And this is where the two differ dramatically with consequences that would last through eternity.  Judas had many opportunities to turn from his sin.  He had heard the lessons of Jesus – He knew the message of forgiveness and restoration!  But he never applied them to himself.  Judas, who soon after betraying the One who came to give new life ended his own life unable to live with what he had done.  His guilt was too great.  Instead of seeking forgiveness from the One who could give it, he forever sealed his fate.  What a shame!

Peter, however, lived with the guilt of what he had done for only a period of time until Jesus restored Peter.  Days after Jesus’ resurrection, a beautiful transaction occurred between Peter and Jesus. John 21:15-17 tell us of that exchange. “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’  He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’  He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’  And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’ 

I am confident that time from his betrayal of Jesus to his restoration by Jesus had to be long, anguishing days for Peter. But now Peter understood the purpose of Jesus’ mission and he had taken it to heart!  By the third time of eliciting a response from Peter, Jesus was exercising His teaching through what the Greek called phileo – strong friendship.  Prior to His death, Jesus had taught that a friend who loves will lay down his life for another.  With Peter’s final response, Jesus had drawn a commitment from Peter that not only assured the other disciples of the bond between Himself and Peter, but also demonstrated complete forgiveness and affirmation of Peter’s original calling to serve.  Peter was restored!

Celebrate the newness of life that only Jesus can give.  Don’t let your past determine your future!  Don’t follow the path of Judas and allow your sin and mistakes to rob you from a future of restoration in Christ.  The very One who came to give that new life is simply waiting for you to ask Him.  He is waiting to forgive and give you life more abundantly!




If you are reading this right now, it’s because you have a “negative” influence in your life! It’s the “negative” side of your electricity (or battery) that is permitting your computer/smartphone to display these words on your screen. Nothing would work in our day of technology without the influence of “negative”!

We much have “negative” to survive in life. Down to the very atomic level of our existence is “positive” and “negative” at work! It allows us to function. The universe would not exist without it. 

So why are we so “negative” about “negative” Christians? I commonly read/hear people’s comments about to much “negativity” in the Church. Is that really the case? I find that some people can’t stomach a “negative” preacher, preaching “negative” messages. It’s become so important to some, that if you don’t always have something “positive” to say, you are considered valueless to our culture. 

Some are so concerned about feeling good that they won’t read anything they deem “negative” on Facebook. They will totally reject it as useless and harmful. Some people are so “negative” about being “negative”, it has become a religion to them. But is this wise? For years, the “Power of Positive Thinking/Confession” has dominated the Church to the degree that people will rebuke you for saying something that they think is “negative”. It is apparent that these people have read more books than they have read their Bibles.

The Bible is FULL of very negative statements. The Bible is not of book of self-help, feel good attitudes to make one live to your best potential, as some have recently tried to make it appear. The Scriptures have just as many “negative” things to say as it does “positive” things. And we better pay attention as to why it does!

When I read the Ten Commandments, I see a bunch of “thou shalt NOT” statement. Modern psychology detests this. (Actually, the world has never really liked God’s Ten Commandments!) Yet God is not trying to win a popularity contest with people – God is being real. And in a real world, with real people and real situations, “negatives” must be present. Just as your car would not start without a “negative” post on your battery, or your light switch would not turn on a light without a “negative” ground wire, so life on this planet would not work without “negatives”.

“Negative” brings our life into balance. Without it, as in the “positive” and “negative” flow of electronics, there is not a proper flow in existence. Life needs “negatives”. And like it or not, Church needs “negatives”. We can’t live our lives off the constant flow of “positive” things. Sure, it’s fun singing fun, high-energy, positive songs! And it’s very nice hearing an encouraging message that lifts your spirits! It’s wonderful to hear a sermon that makes you smile or laugh. But folks, every now and again we need to get the other side of the story! WE NEED A NEGATIVE WORD TOO! 

I was recently reading about God’s commission to the young prophet Jeremiah and I found it interesting how many “negative” aspects was in his calling from God. After Jeremiah admitted to the Lord his inability to be a prophet, God told him:

“Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, TO ROOT OUT, and TO PULL DOWN, and TO DESTROY, and TO THROW DOWN, to build, and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

If you look at that passage carefully, you will notice that four times the Lord commissioned Jeremiah to do something “negative”, and two times He tells him to do something “positive” in his life ministry. The “negative” actually outweighed the “positive” in the ministry of this great weeping prophet. Was he unbalanced? No! He actually brought balance back to Israel! But it never seemed to be accepted by the masses. 

He was being what prophets are. Most of the time, their message is one of challenge and rebuke. Prophets never win popularity contests. Yet their message is designed by God.

As a whole, Jeremiah was a loner. He had to be, because not too many people want to hang around a “negative” person. But Jeremiah couldn’t help but walk around as a brokenhearted man as he watched his people and his nation slowly disintegrate in front of his eyes! He was being a realist! He couldn’t ignore the obvious! The power of “positive thinking” was not changing the undeniable condition of his people and his nation, especially knowing how God was feeling about their condition.

While the majority of preachers of his day were preaching messages of “peace and prosperity”, Jeremiah came out of his prayer closet with a burning message of repentance and judgment! He would stand and declare, right in front of the house of the Lord, that if the people would not turn from their sin and rebellion that certain judgment was on its way!

He faithfully proclaimed his message; regardless of the price it cost him. But Jeremiah was truly distressed by his message. It caused him to weep as he would expose the sin and compromise among the spiritual leaders of his day! It grieved him to remind the people of where they had fallen. He looked around and saw the immorality, the lust for more things, the lack of holiness, the abundance of pride and arrogance, the double standards, the tendency to go through the motions of prayer and worship with a heart full of hypocritical surface ritual, and he could not help but cry out against it! Yes, Jeremiah was “negative”! He had to be! The people of Israel had become abundantly obsessed with itself, so that it lost touch with reality, and was spinning out of control.

So God sent His prophet to bring balance back to His people. 

Today, America could use some Jeremiahs! We are a people bent on destruction as well. We too live in such a day where anything is permissible except for “negativism”. Even our spiritual leaders today openly reject the importance of “negative” preaching. A message on repentance is almost non-existent! In a day when sin and compromise are rampant in the Church, as well as the world, one wonders what happen to the prophets of God? Has the Church really become a “non-prophet” corporation?? Have we sold ourselves out to the psychiatrists that claim we just need to take some meds and stop being so “negative”? Are we REALLY that far off? Have we become a culture engrossed in ourselves so much that we can’t admit it when we have gone the wrong direction – because that may make us feel bad about ourselves??

To put it to you plainly – America and its Churches are in a quick downward spiral to destruction! We are losing ground so fast it is shocking! But we are contended to retreat to our buildings once or twice a week to get our “booster shot”, so we can keep running in circles and being “positive” all the while! 

Ladies and Gentlemen: we must face the facts – be it “negative” or not – the American Church is backslid! Apathy and compliancy has taken over the controls because it’s the only thing that permits us to pretend another week! It’s like we are in a spiritual coma and clueless to the seriousness of the hour! But we can’t ignore this condition any longer!


We need men of God to stand up again before their congregation and weep as they tell the whole truth! We can’t play this church game any longer! We need to hear a clear call of turning from our self-centered sinful ways and humble ourselves before God and get our priorities right! 

There is way too much compromise and sin that reigns in the hearts of believers! The level of carnality has gone past full and it now overflows in every aspect of the Christian life! Today we see the most damnable perversions are being defended and supported by professing believers! The nasty sins of the world have crept right into the Church! Our people are so engrossed in their televisions and their movies, that they can’t even see how it has perverted their reasoning abilities! We have become the people who call good “evil” and evil “good”!

It’s time for some “negative” believers to stand up and do what God called Jeremiah to do: “TO ROOT OUT, and TO PULL DOWN, and TO DESTROY, and TO THROW DOWN!” And if we will do so, we will be able to have something left so we can once again “build” and “plant” toward a nation blessed in revival!

Think about it!




Fill In The Blanks by Anne S. Hardin

I wish I had more time to (blank).  I would love to (blank). My family needs more of my time so we can (blank). If I didn’t have to (blank), I could spend more time in prayer and reading God’s Word. And the list goes on and on for each of us.  It seems the needs and wants in our lives are as plentiful and diverse as the wild flowers blooming in spring. Although there are vast differences between people due to personalities, family structures and histories, areas of expertise, and experiences with God, our need for more time is definitely singular in nature.  Yet the question remains for each of us – how do we fill in our blanks?

Before considering the “how”, we must first examine our lives, our motives, and our priorities. The Bible tells us in Exodus 20:3 in the very first commandment God gave to Moses that we are to have no other gods before Him. Most of us who are Christians would immediately affirm we have no idols or gods that we have placed before the Almighty God. However, anything or anyone we allow to hold a dominant position in our thoughts or lives can easily rise to the point of prominence in us. We must also be aware that not all things or people that could become idols are evil in their own right; it is the position we allow them to take in our lives that can change someone or something from good to unpleasing to the Lord.  Sometimes we struggle to keep our priorities in the right order.

For example, a brief look at King Solomon reveals a man who was presented with anything he wanted but requested an understanding heart.  He did not seek riches or prosperity, but wisdom. Solomon loved God and walked in the statutes of the Lord (I Kings 3:3-14). However, over time, Solomon allowed his life’s focus to shift from the ways of God to his own desires.  He filled in his blanks with women who did not honor and serve his God.

This change in Solomon’s life did not occur overnight just as it does not happen quickly with us. It was a slow chipping away at Solomon’s foundation; it was filling one blank at a time in his life with things and people not in God’s plan for him. We must remember that Satan is patient; he does not rush. He does not have to bombard us with a sea of sin and wrongdoing. He will place one small temptation in our path and continue chiseling away until we allow that temptation, whatever or whomever it may be, to become increasingly acceptable and appealing to us until ultimately we embrace it. Satan does this repeatedly. If nothing else, Satan is persistent, relentless, and patient! He only needs a tiny, almost miniscule, amount of our attention to eventually destroy us.

I Kings shows us the effect of filling the blanks with ungodly things and people: it is one of the saddest reflections on Solomon’s life. It tells us: “And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice” (I Kings 11:9 KJV).

So how do we ensure each blank in our lives is being filled with godly things and people so we do not end our lives with the same sad commentary as Solomon? If the most wise man in the world could not accomplish this, how can we? The answer is actually quite simple. We are to seek God’s direction before allowing any person or thing to hold a position of importance in our lives. Proverbs 3:5-6 provides instruction on how to accomplish our goal: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”

If we make time in our daily schedules to seek the Lord and then trust in His guidance, we can rest assured He will never lead us to fill in our blanks with anything detrimental to our relationship with Him.

Taking these thoughts into consideration, how will you now look at the blanks in your life?

And, more importantly, how will you fill them?

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